It was shortly after the commandment to ‘Read in the name of thy Lord,’ that the Prophetﷺ distressingly asked her to cover him up and upon doing so, Allah allowed us to glance an intimate glimpse at their extraordinary partnership. Many of us know her as the powerful matriarch of Islam’s early days. To others, she stands as a testament of the progressiveness of Islam. But few have explored the play of the colours that emanated from Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, and the Prophet’s ﷺ personalities. With their relationship, we are presented with a love that that is speckled with complimentary, and contrasting colours, intended to provoke intrigue and disquisition from viewers.
A spawn of the late sixties post modernist expressionism, colour blocking boldly defined the parameters of a garment by using opposing colours to create an outfit that stressed on the accompaniment of different hues. (Fibre2 Fashion, 2008) Colour blocking not only offered a way to create a visually balanced outfit, but also provided an opportunity to dramatize the interactions of various palettes. The main rule of colour blocking was to pair colours with similar sentiments, even if they looked different. (Fibre2 Fashion, 2008) However, the aesthetic merit of colour blocking is not only limited to the fashion world, rather the methodology can also be extended to understanding the subtle interactions between personalities and how the interplay between specific character traits play a critical role in contributing to the look of a finished outfit- but in this case a union – one with a balanced sensibility and complementary sentiments.
Oftentimes, a person’s physical makeup, and social identity connect the individual to broader societal categories. People belonging to similar class, gender and age tend to stay within socially constructed parameters and adopt the norms, and values of their peers. However, Khadijah’s marriage to the Prophet ﷺ, who was (by numerous accounts) not in her age bracket, or economic group, highlights her preoccupation with constructing a sense of self that was based on independent values, and principles. The most profound challenge for the early generation of Muslims was to create, and adhere to new modalities of being in the absence of the society to which these could be applied.
When Khadijah married the Prophet ﷺ, their marriage revealed aspects of themselves that we may have never known. The Prophet ﷺ was well rounded because he possessed both sound character as well as the business intelligence needed to make money. Both of these elements are critical in maintaining perpetual marital satisfaction. Their desire to marry, illustrated their progressive thinking on how to formulate a mutually beneficial union that wed deen and dunya. Furthermore, her decision to marry a younger manﷺ who harbored very different sentiments to the rest of society, sheds light on Khadijah’s commitment to self growth, and her willingness to embrace change- a trait that served her well in the later years of their marriage. A believer’s adaptability is critical to their success in this world, and the next. In fact, we might have never witnessed this colour (characteristic) in Khadijah if it were not for the colour backdrop provided by their union. “Sometimes there’s a simultaneous contrast, how you can affect one colour off of another colour, Ellen Evjen, a colour theory professor at Parsons The New School for Design, tells Teen Vogue. “Something may look darker because it’s against something light.” ( Michelle Li, 2019)
Designers that incorporate colour blocking into their clothing, follow certain established guidelines. In that, they look for colours that harmonize, and deliberately draw attention to each other. The Prophet’s desire to be alone shortly before the first revelation descended, deliberately accentuated and exacerbated Khadijah.
It was reported by Aisha that “the commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food likewise again till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira.” (Sahih Bukhari)
The above narration offers a glimpse at how the Prophet’s ﷺ seclusion embolded the look of their marriage, by drawing attention to their remarkable character traits. The narration illustrates that Khadijah was emotionally independent because she was capable of being alone. She did not rely on the Prophet ﷺ to keep her happy and occupied. Someone who requires constant attention and reassurance can make a relationship very difficult. Independent people are able to ask for support, and take care of themselves.
A similar incident that deserves attention is her reaction to the Prophet’s ﷺ experience in Mount Hira.
“O Khadija! What is wrong with me? I was afraid that something bad might happen to me.” Then he told her the story. Khadija said, “Nay! But receive the good tidings! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you, for by Allah, you keep good relations with your Kith and kin, speak the truth, help the poor and the destitute, entertain your guests generously and assist those who are stricken with calamities.”(Sahih Bukhari)
The Prophet’s ﷺ natural fear, showed his vulnerability, while simultaneously shed light on the intensity and depth of the colour of calmness demonstrated by Khadijah. When the Prophet ﷺ confided in her about what he experienced, we see that Khadijah was a person who practiced calmness during emotionally charged situations. She was a rational and independent thinker, in that she refused to believe that Allah was unjust and would humiliate someone with good character. Many women and men would panic under similar situations, fearing the worst, but she chose to maintain her opinion of Allah.
Incidents like the aforementioned illustrate the enduring significance of the seerah. The biography of the Prophet ﷺ refutes stereotypical demonstrations of love that we see in popular culture and instead takes on new significance, causing our eyes to linger a little longer at the complementary interplay of loving in colour.
“The Art of Color Blocking” Fibre2 Fashion, Nov 2008. <https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/3732/the-art-of-color-blocking>
Li, Michelle, ” This Fall we are Clashing our Colours with Reckless Abandon” Teen Vogue, 2019 <https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-layer-clothing-fall-colorblocking>
Sahih Bukhari Book 1 Hadith 3
Sahih Bukhari Book 65, Hadith 475